New Delhi, Nov. 15: The trial court today formally framed the charges against the three Hinduja brothers and the Swiss company, M/S AB Bofors, in the Bofors pay-off case.
Special trial judge Prem Kumar framed the charges against the three Hinduja brothers — Srichand, Prakashchand, Gopichand — in front of their counsel U.A. Rana.
The judge had ordered that the charges would be framed and the accused sent up for trial, when Rana pleaded “not guilty” to the charges. He fixed December 4 for the commencement of the trial, which is slated on a day-to-day basis.
A former railway official stood as a representative for Bofors company.
On the basis of his 176-page order passed yesterday, the judge framed common charges of criminal conspiracy (Section 120b) and cheating (Section 420) under IPC and Sections 5(1)(d) and 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (bribing public servants) against the accused.
The court framed additional charges against the Hindujas for offences under Section 161 read with Section 165a (abetting a public servant to take bribe) and Section 34 (common intention) of IPC.
Additional charges were also framed against Bofors company under Section 161 read with Section 165a (abetting a public servant to take bribe) and Section 464 (making a false document) and Section 465 (forgery) of IPC.
The company pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges.
Rana said they would prove their innocence “as soon as possible”, while Bofors counsel Alok Sengupta sought five weeks’ time.
According to the charges, the Hindujas, Bofors company, then Bofors chief Martin Ardbo, its Indian agent Wisheshwar Nath Chaddha alias Win Chaddha, Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, then defence secretary S.K. Bhatnagar and a few others entered into a criminal conspiracy and cheated the government of Rs 64 crore by fraudulently getting the Rs 1472.72-crore deal awarded to Bofors.
Rajiv Gandhi, Bhatnagar and Chaddha have died. Quattrocchi is in Malaysia and extradition process is on.
The Swiss government refused to hand over Ardbo for trial in India citing Swiss laws and his presence for the trial is yet to be secured.
The prosecution said there was “enough evidence” to prove the guilt of the accused though important links in the chain is no longer available as death has snatched them away.
Payments to the Hindujas were allegedly made in Swiss Kroners and went into code worded accounts — lotus, tulip, mont blanc — in Swiss banks.
There are allegedly three more accounts. The CBI is said to have narrowed down on two but the sixth account still remains a mystery.